The National Health Society estimates that there are as many as 250,000 individuals in the UK with a gambling addiction.
When suffering from compulsive gambling it can feel impossible to control the impulse to gamble, and we continue despite the problems it causes ourselves and our loved ones.
Like other forms of addiction, gambling can become all that we think about, or want to do, no matter what the consequences.
What are the Signs I Have a Gambling Problem?
Symptoms to look for that mean you might have a problem with gambling:
you are spending increasing amounts of time or money on betting
it is causing you to be secretive
you are gambling when you do not have the money
your friends and family are worried
you are having problems controlling your impulses to bet.
But I’m Not Sure What I’m Doing is Really “Gambling”
Gambling can be difficult to define; partly because it takes shape in so many different forms. However, it may be loosely described as, “when two or more people participate in an activity, where the outcome is unclear and partially determined by chance, and where the loser agrees to pay the winner money. ” (www.gamcare.org.uk). This DOES include:
bets ‘amongst friends’
‘harmless’ slot machines
Is it really that horrible to like gambling?
To convey the painful emotional struggle felt by others who suffer from gambling addiction, the following quote was taken from the New Members Forum (www.gamcare.org.uk):
“The feeling is horrible; it is a compulsion that drives us to enter the comforting world of the betting shop and part with all our hard earned money. I wish that there was something that I could do to suppress the urge to go in to the bookies, casino or arcade and plough my entire wages into a machine that for over 10 years has taken all my hard earned money. FOBTS (Fixed Odd Betting Terminals)…… I hate you, you’ve ruined my life!”
But it’s so easy nowadays to gamble I just have to turn my computer on
It’s a sad truth that since the introduction of legal betting establishments in the 1960’s, gambling seems to be an increasing part of our society. In contrast with other addictions that require the individual to venture outside the home to get their “fix”, gambling addiction is different.
And now with an active Internet connection comes he temptation to spend your hard earned cash at an online casino or bingo websites with a couple of clicks of a button. With many internet betting venues frequently entice customers with things like ‘free’ cash to play with, is it any wonder that so many of us buy into the idea of “nothing to lose” and become addicted to gambling?
But just because it’s readily available does not mean it is not highly dangerous.
Counselling for Gambling
Though it may sound like a cliché, the first step to gaining control over a problem or addiction to gambling is admitting to the problem. That means not just blaming it on being bored, not just saying ‘it’s no big deal’, but actually admitting it is indeed something that is negatively affecting both your life and those around you. It is an admission that takes courage, strength, and a desire to change.
Recovering from gambling addiction is not easy, but it may be easier with the support of a trained therapist who can offer counselling for gambling. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is often used to treat issues with gambling by focusing on different ways of thinking. It also addresses how you feel and behave when you want to bet or when you are gambling.
For example, if you have a problem with gambling, you may think and feel very differently about your betting, than those around you. You may believe that certain rituals may bring you luck, or that if you lose you can regain what you have lost by gambling more, or that winning twice in a row means that you are on a ‘winning streak’.
CBT can help you to confront these thoughts, and has been shown to reduce not only the amount of days a person spends gambling but also the amount of money that they lose through gambling.
If you are concerned about the effects of gambling in your life then it may be worth considering learning more about CBT. Harley Therapy – Psychotherapy & Counselling London offers understanding and highly trained therapists trained in CBT and addiction counselling. You can book an assessment online, and if you live overseas, we now also offer Skype Counselling.